4/14 (Thai Time)
I've been keeping a journal while training at Sor Klinmee. I get infrequent internet access, so I'm going to post multiple days at once. I'm trying to give a general idea of what it's like at the gym. Also, look for a review of Eminent Air, the gym I trained at last time I was in Thailand.
So, it's April 5th (4th your time), and I'm in Sor Klinmee in Pattaya. It took 400 baht to get here from the bus stop in South Pattaya, though I could have haggled that down a fair bit. It did take two drivers and two security guards and a receptionist at an airport office 30 minutes to figure out where exactly the camp was, though. The business card I'd printed out had two numbers, the first which no one picked up, the second belonging to a Thai man as confused as his callers.
Most people have a bit of trouble with it, but I love Thai weather. Maybe it's because I'm always, according to friends and family, giving off a lot of heat, but I'm sensitive to cold, and Thailand is the perfect place for those sensitive to cold. Shanghai was 19 degrees centigrade, Thailand was 30. That's 90 degrees. Hot heaven.
I haven't trained yet. The owner, Tappaya, or Neyn, suggested I take the first day off. After 4 airplane rides and 3 bus rides in 12 days, I was inclined to agree. Thankfully, I brought books. To anyone who hasn't heard of him or seen his show, I highly recommend Mike Birbiglia. I saw his solo standup routine “Sleepwalk with Me,” and liked it enough to buy a copy of the book when it came out.
For now, I'm getting settled. The camp seems extremely chill. There are little kids running around, Tappaya and his wife, Pak, are teaching me Thai nouns and verbs every so often.
A word of advice: call your bank to place your cards on travel alert so you don't have to call your bank from another country when your debit card works. This isn't from experience or anything. I just thought it might happen. Right.
Now to figure out the most reliable source of internet around here. (There's no wireless at the camp.)
(Afternoon, tired after training.)
I lied. So we did train in the afternoon.
Ran 15 km this morning. More like ran 8 km and walked/ran the rest, though. Thanks to Jomthong for leading me back to the gym.
I brought a pair of Vibrams KSOs for the running here and let me just say that people aren't kidding when they recommend a break-in period. The first run I did before training on the 5th (something like 7 km) started a couple of blisters on my feet. I'm back to my Nike Frees for the time being.
I'm not sure if there are any gear shops nearby. I know there's a Fairtex in the city, but I'm looking to buy some King gloves, actually. I'll probably pick them up when I go back to Bangkok. These little expenses do add up.
Another thing I want to mention. Do not underestimate the role of your opposition in your improvement. Both frequency and quality of fights play a big role. Shanghai now has former Lumpini champions as coaches, but without a competitive circuit, their fighters are going to lag behind. I hope that changes soon. A couple of promotions are doing well in China. I-1 in Hong Kong and Wu Lin Feng, the promotion that put on Buakaw vs Xu Yan and Yodsaenglai vs Hapless San Da Fighter, are two, though neither are in Shanghai.
People criticize American Muay Thai but, on the amateur level, there's a wealth of competition. I know the Bay Area Muay Thai scene is doing quite well. Malaipet's based out of there, as is Michael Mananquil, the Filipino-American fighter who fought Sudsakorn in the Belarusian WKN tournament. Props to the West coast for allowing elbows, too.
So I just did much better on the 15 km run after skipping yesterday's. I had to take a break halfway because there was something going on with my left knee. I think I checked a low kick from some dude in China and didn't raise my leg high enough so his foot caught me on the bottom of my knee cap. Tiger Balmed that shit. Man, Tiger Balm is pungent.
Thai Iced Tea, as the restaurants in the US call it, is Chai Nom (correct me if I'm wrong). I plan on getting some next time the lady with the cart comes around. Looks a hell of a lot more delicious (arroy) than Gatorade.
I watched Dr. No and Goldfinger the previous two nights. I have to say, the acting was much better and less cliched in those older films, particularly Dr. No. And if I'm not mistaken, the main theme of Dr. No is actually the iconic Bond theme.
Oh, yes. The secret to doing well on the long run. Take off your shirt. It helps if you have magnetic abs, as I certainly do, but you'll find yourself propelled home well enough if you let yourself cool off. I made a poor choice in wearing the rather thick, tight-fitting t-shirt from the NY Botanical Gardens (bless their hearts), and had to carry it in hand to wick off sweat by the 6.5th kilometer or so. Take it off!
I might skip the afternoon run today to rest my knee. Don't want it to twinge badly during padwork. That would be complicating.
Did I mention the Thai kids are hella cool and funny? They also like aggravating the soi dogs on the run past.
Two promotions are making waves in the New York area, Friday Night Fights and Takeon Productions . Takeon hosted an 8 man 140 lb tournament with $10,000 as the prize money in 2010. Friday Night Fights used to promote exclusively in Manhattan and they've been packing the venues downtown recently. Now, though, they've branched out into MMA. Their first MMA event was in Vermont and came with a local television deal. Not bad. I'm sure they're going to start holding MMA events in NYC once MMA gets legalized there.
Support your local promotions, wherever you are. It helps the scene as a whole, as well as the fighters.